Spatial Requirements: Regular classroom setup; little or no space required
Activity Type: Object  
Grades: K-12
Group Size: 2 or more
Time: 5 minutes

Introduction: This quick object lesson demonstrates a physical representation of resilience and its opposite, a lack of resilience.


  • 2 basketballs – one that is partially deflated with just enough air to give it a normal shape, but not enough to be dribbled, and one that is properly inflated
  • 2 chairs, placed side by side at the front of the room


Hold up the two basketballs and explain to students that these basketballs represent two people. Both of these people are from the same neighborhood and attend the same school. Their family life is similar too.

Invite two volunteers to come forward, and explain that they’re going to have a competition to see whose ball can bounce the highest. Have the volunteers stand on the chairs facing the class and hand each volunteer a basketball. Tell them that on the count of 3, they are to drop their balls and you will be carefully measuring which one bounces the highest.

When the balls are dropped, one will obviously bounce lower or not bounce at all, while the inflated basketball will have no trouble bouncing.

Processing the Experience: 

  • How difficult would it be to play a basketball game with the deflated ball?
  • How difficult do you think it is to manage hard challenges if you don’t have resilience?
  • At the beginning of this activity, I explained that both of these basketballs represented two people from very similar environments.
  • How is it possible that they could be so different?
  • Do you think it’s possible for someone from a very difficult home environment to do well in life and be resilient? Why or why not?
  • What do you think it means to “bounce back” from difficult challenges?
  • What other ties do you see in this lesson to the concept of resilience?

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